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Dry bulk market crashing at start of the year

Thursday, 12 January 2012 | 00:00
The dry bulk market has kept being on freefall mode yesterday, with the industry's benchmark, the BDI (Baltic Dry Index) losing a massive 5.17% on the day and ending the session down to just 1,193 points, which is almost half of where it stood during the final weeks of 2011. Leading the plunge was the Capesize sector which yesterday lost 5.82%, with the BCI (Baltic Capesize Index) ending down by 5.82%, while Panamaxes were also heavily hit, falling by an additional 4.26%.
In its latest weekly report, Fearnleys said on the Capesize market that "history repeats itself - with the new year starting with lack of cargoes and too many ships, just like the beginning of year 2011. We have seen some activity on the West Australia/China route but rates have been dropping and time being around mid 8´s. Now the activity x W.Australia is basically stopped due to cyclone. For the fronthaul, bids/offers are presently USD 21 against 22 and the short period market is dead, with FFA values suggesting these rates are in the lower 10,000s dly which does not make sense for most owners" said the shipbroker.
On a similar note, Shiptrade mentioned that " the market dropped heavily and pessimism took over. The average of the four T/C Routes decreased by USD 12,000, closing the week at USD 15,500 and this was reflected on the BDI which recorded a free fall of 983 points. Rates for front haul trips concluded at USD 32,500 per day and the T/A round, which was heavily affected by the rainfalls in Colombia, concluded at around USD 14,500, both significantly less than the week before. In the Pacific the majors appeared relatively quiet ending up at declining levels of USD 9.00 pmt towards the close for the Dampier/Qingdao. Owners preferred to ballast to Brazil or South Africa as west Australia lacked cargos followed by the huge amount of available tonnage in the East. Capesize rates are going to be supported by lower iron ore prices and coal demand for Winter heating in the coming months, thus freight rates are expected to stay sensitive to iron ore price developments Mining companies will prefer to sell their production in larger volumes rather than higher prices, as long as China appears ready to purchase" said Shiptrade.

Meanwhile, on the Panamax front, Fearnleys said that it "continued its softening trend, especially in the Pacific. In Q1 last year, the situation was quite similar and seems history is
repeating itself. On Tuesday this week, there were more activity but the instant burst of excitement and activity was soon replaced with the tough facts. The open vessels are simply out numbering the available cargoes hence rates continue to slip. China´s coal stocks are high after the rally in coal cgos from especially Indonesia prior Christmas. This is not helping the
Pacific market and causing owners to offer in at lower levels than what´s last done. We are in between two grains seasons thus we do not expect any boom in the activity for the ECSA market either in the short term. In Australia, Port Hedland is closed down due to the approaching Tropical Cyclone Heidi. Tarvs now being fixed at around USD 13k while the fronthauls in the low/mid 20´s. Pac rounds keeps slipping and now achieve in the region of USD 8/9k" said Fearnleys.
Shiptrade also mentioned that "the first fixtures of the year followed the same decreasing patterns as the last week of 2011. In the Atlantic Basin the lack of Mid January cargoes in Continent led the owners ballast their ships towards USG/USEC. In the Med the market was really quiet as well, which was no surprise due to the past New Year’s Holiday. On the other hand owners who were keen to call Far East had to compete with the ballasters from North China/Korea. In the Pacific Basin the week started with optimism as LME vessels were reported at 10-11,000 basis delivery North China for Pacific rounds. However, the week closed with many similar vessels being reported at USD 9-10,000 basis delivery North China for same route. The average time charter rate of the four assessment routes dropped about USD 1,100 USD to 12,200 per day".
As for the Supramax trades, Shiptrade, a Piraeus-based shipbroker said that "rates dropped both at Atlantic and Pacific. On the Atlantic side owners faced a lack of cargoes in Continent and high competition which led them to ballast at USG. There, although some few fresh cargoes came out market decreased further due to the too many available vessels at the region. Trips to Persian Gulf and West Coast India were fixed at USD 29,000 levels and Transatlantic trips to Skaw/Passero at USD 24,000. Also Med was weak with trips to USG rating at USD 4-5,000 and front haul trips fixed around a lower USD 22,000. On the Pacific rates dropped further given that vessels from china were fixed at USD 5,000 for Indonesian round voyage with nickel ore. The imminent Chinese New Year’s combined with the abundance of existing and new building tonnages do not leave much hope for market revitalization, at least for the month to come" it concluded.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide
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